It's hard being a teacher that is in the minority. I truly enjoyed my teaching career, but it came very toxic against LGBT teachers with the hiring of a new administrator. The school feeling changes, things that you would never imagine happening went on without any repercussions, and you sensed teachers were forced to take sides, due to a change in power. Some of us teachers and former teachers know too well how awful things can get.
In a recent story in the South Florida Gay News titled "Gay Whistleblower Fired from St. Andrew’s School in Boca: Teacher describes a toxic environment filled with homophobia and racism," we learn what one brave teacher is going through due to a school lacking in morality.
I have to tell you this is the most racist and homophobic place I’ve ever worked,” declared Scott Melton in April at a faculty meeting in front of dozens of teachers, administrators and the board of trustees of Saint Andrew’s private school in Boca Raton.
One teacher who attended vividly recalled the meeting.
“When Scott stood up his voice was trembling, you could see he was upset,” the teacher said. “He was forceful in saying this school is not welcoming to gay people and people of color and it has to stop.”
The day after the meeting, he complained to the head of his department that certain administrators were attempting to cover up a possible sex abuse scandal, alleging that outside authorities were not being notified, as required by Florida law.
The next day Melton, 52, was put on a paid leave of absence – never to return.
Melton, who is an openly gay, black, Jewish man, doesn’t know if he was pushed out because of his sexuality, or because he was a whistleblower – or a combination of both.
Regardless, he’s devastated and angry.
Melton loved his job as an English, History and German teacher. He loved it so much that when he started 6 years ago he gave up his social life and backed away from his involvement with the gay community in Fort Lauderdale.
Even though Saint Andrew’s is a Christian school, they have a non-discrimination clause that covers sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Additionally, they have a policy protecting whistleblowers.
Melton resigned from his position at the school on June 27, while still on his leave of absence.
“Since being put on administrative leave with pay, I have been contacted only once. Saint Andrew’s School has been negligent and derelict in duty to communicate my status for not only this year but also for the 2016-2017 school year,” his letter of resignation reads. “Therefore, due to the hostile work environment and lack of information I have experienced … I am forced to give my resignation … and seek employment elsewhere.”
Melton filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the school asking for back pay, lost fringe benefits, compensatory damages and reinstatement. The lawsuit alleges that the school violated state law by retaliating against Melton for being a whistleblower. In an earlier letter to the school from his lawyer he separately alleged discrimination based on his race and sexual orientation.
SFGN interviewed five current teachers at the school, all of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the administration. It also states in the employee handbook that teachers are not allowed to speak to the press.
SFGN also interviewed one of Melton’s former students, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation. – SouthFloridaGayNews.com
Head over to South Florida Gay News for more on this story. The interviews hit home so hard with me. At SouthFloridaGayNews.com you'll also read about the scandal that Scott Melton was talking about, where the Department of Children and Family services and Boca Raton police department were not notified until April, six months after the school had parted ways with the teacher in question.
Have you worked in a toxic school environment before?
What did you do?
Did you leave?
Did you try and make it better?
Did you go against the administration?
Thanks again friends over at SouthFloridaGayNews.com here's a h/t (hat tip) to you.
If you have any information regarding this story, Jason Parsley can be reached at 561-706-6646 or Jason.Parsley@sfgn.com.